1. any tree or shrub belonging to the genus Quercus, of the beech family, bearing the acorn as fruit.
  2. the hard, durable wood of such a tree, used in making furniture and in construction.
  3. the leaves of this tree, especially as worn in a chaplet.
  4. anything made of the wood of this tree, as an item of furniture, a door, etc.
  1. sport one's oak, British. (of a university student) to indicate that one is not at home to visitors by closing the outer door of one's lodgings.

Origin of oak

before 900; Middle English ook, Old English āc; cognate with Dutch eik, German Eiche
Related formsoak·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for oaks


noun (functioning as singular)
  1. the Oaks a horse race for fillies held annually at Epsom since 1779: one of the classics of English flat racing
  2. any of various similar races

Word Origin for Oaks

named after an estate near Epsom


  1. any deciduous or evergreen tree or shrub of the fagaceous genus Quercus, having acorns as fruits and lobed leavesSee also holm oak, cork oak, red oak, Turkey oak, durmast Related adjective: quercine
    1. the wood of any of these trees, used esp as building timber and for making furniture
    2. (as modifier)an oak table
  2. any of various trees that resemble the oak, such as the poison oak, silky oak, and Jerusalem oak
    1. anything made of oak, esp a heavy outer door to a set of rooms in an Oxford or Cambridge college
    2. sport one's oakto shut this door as a sign one does not want visitors
  3. the leaves of an oak tree, worn as a garland
  4. the dark brownish colour of oak wood
  5. Australian any of various species of casuarina, such as desert oak, swamp oak, or she-oak

Word Origin for oak

Old English āc; related to Old Norse eik, Old High German eih, Latin aesculus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for oaks



Old English ac "oak tree," from Proto-Germanic *aiks (cf. Old Norse eik, Old Saxon and Old Frisian ek, Middle Dutch eike, Dutch eik, Old High German eih, German Eiche), of uncertain origin with no certain cognates outside Germanic.

The usual Indo-European base for "oak" (*derwo-/*dreu-) has become Modern English tree. Used in Biblical translations to render Hebrew elah (probably usually "terebinth tree") and four other words. The Old Norse form was eik, but as there were no oaks in Iceland the word came to be used there for "tree" in general.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper